Sunday, July 18, 2010


I guess technically it hasn't been that long since Vancouver but wow - it feels like years. Maybe that's because I tried very, very hard to block most of it out of memory. I didn't really realize I'd done that until just recently. That bummed me out a bit. The day after I got back from China, I was at CVS printing copies of my favorite digital photos ( I had, literally, over a thousand pictures from Beijing), I was buying a photo album, I was re-decorating my place with all of China crap, I mean souvenirs.

But the day after I returned from Vancouver - actually, not even a day later, literally 5 hours later, I was on a flight to Minneapolis on my way to a shoot with my 'real' job. I was even supposed to head to Atlanta that night but LUCKILY my flight was delayed and we ended up just flying back to Milwaukee rather than get stuck in Minneapolis. That's the first time I've ever been grateful that air travel can suck.

So it was a little hard to soak in the Olympic experience. Because you don't get a chance to do it while you're there. You tuck your experiences into a little corner in your brain and think "wow, this will be so much fun to look back on". Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the corner I stashed all the good memories in yet. I know I will eventually but ge'ez, I really should have drawn myself a road map to the memories. "Turn left after the time you tap danced at the family reunion and bear right when you see the somersault off the church alter."

In reality though, I've barely thought about Vancouver since being home because I've been totally consumed by two things. Work. And Running.

I had committed to the Green Bay Marathon back in May and so I was running quite a bit in Vancouver trying to get my long runs and speed work in. Do you know what's an absolutely terrible idea? Trying to get long runs in when you're working insane hours with insane levels of stress. Yep. Pretty stupid idea. I ended up coming back pretty beat up - which I realized when I attempted a 14 miler the saturday after getting back. About an hour after I finished my run my IT band pretty much seized up and I was unable to run for almost a month. It stunk.

Now that I've learned to love running, NOT being able to run is just torture.

The whole thing had started with me getting this crazy idea in my head that I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. To do that I would need a time of 3:40 - a pace of 8:20 per mile. Pretty speedy - but I really do think I have it in me to do.... but probably not for another year and by that time I will have moved up an age group and hooray! Then I'll have an extra 5 minutes to qualify! One good thing about that whole 'getting older' thing I guess. Well.... it's still a dream, a bit far off but ....

So the GB marathon was out of the picture - but I still planned to run the half-marathon.

So I race the half in Green Bay and I finish feeling absolutely miserable. I developed this enormous blister on the side of my foot (2 months later and the scar FINALLY went away), I had gone out too fast and I faded BAD by the end. I finished in 1:50:14, 40 seconds faster than I did the year before but I was pretty bummed out by it - I really wanted to finish in 1:48. So even though I still beat my time, I wasn't too thrilled.

This is what I wrote after the race...
Well, the absolute best thing I can say about this run is that I definitely had NOTHING in the tank left at the end. My legs were completely shot as I finished. I was done, done, donezo. Like Gonzo but with the word done because that creates the word donezo, made popular by those pesky trustfunders on Laguna Beach. But popular catch phrase notwithstanding, I'm still pretty disappointed. And I'm mostly disappointed with just how crappy I felt after the run - my legs were cramping and buckling, I felt like any wrong step would cause them to completely seize up. It was really weird. I've never felt like that before and it's really bothering me because it doesn't feel like it's a day/condition/fluke thing - it feels like it's a strength thing. So argh.... I have some work to do. I've been doing my long runs around a 8:45/8:35 pace and that's been feeling relatively easy so there's really no reason I couldn't go 8:15s here.

Mile 1-7 were easy peasy cheesy wheezy. I felt fantastic. And since I normally negative split all of my long runs, I felt like I was gearing up to have a great finish time. I get to mile 7 and the song that always makes me think of my dad pops into my earbuds. It juiced me up and I started picking up the pace gearing up to start gradually kicking it in to the finish - 8:05. Fantastic! But then I just couldn't keep it up through mile 8 and my pace fell back a bit. I get to mile 9, walk in order to pop another gel and just couldn't get going again (because yes, I totally walk the aid stations if I'm drinking or taking something. Seriously - how in the world does anyone drink water while running? I try and it goes like this "::suck air::... ah, crap, no water... ::suck air again:: ... crap, no water... tip cup, SPLASH! coughcoughsputtersputter... aw crap....") So get going again and sigh.... just couldn't pick it up.

When I got to mile 12, I was pretty sure I was going to have to walk the final mile. I looked at Lambeau field as a giant evil demon in the shape of an Australian toilet bowl. And that was perfectly appropriate as I was feeling like - well, play madlibs here and fill in the blank.
(don't ask me why it's australian in shape, I just assume since the water flushes backwards that their toilet bowls are on the quirky side too - quirky like they have yard lines and goal posts..... sure)

I crossed the finish line and must have looked out of it because some guy grabbed my arm and asked me if I was ok. Yes, fine, but can I please borrow someone else's legs?

So super grumpy me is sitting there, feeling bad for myself and watching the marathon finishers coming in thinking "there is no way, NO WAY, I will ever run a marathon - I think I'M miserable right now? Dang, look at THEM!"

Cut to less than 24 hours later, I'm sitting on my couch at 6am looking at the Philadelphia Marathon site and what do I do? Yep. I register. I think it's because I know it's a challenge I want to take on and really, what better time is there to do it than right now? I have a job that (usually) gives me the time to train. I am in the best shape of my life - with room for a LOT of improvement. And if I want to keep that little "qualify for Boston" dream alive, well, then I should probably do a marathon and see if I even like running them!

Luckily I conned one of my friends, Amy, into doing it with me so at least I won't be suffering alone! Because I know it's going to suck. But I also know I'm going to be a stronger person for doing it. The training, the dedication, the race itself - maybe I just really like the idea of "stacey the marathoner" but hey - if I really like the idea, then why not make it a reality?

The race is the weekend before Thanksgiving which I'll be spending in Jersey with my mom and Steven. I've already dubbed that week "Gobble, Gobble, Hobble, Hobble".

So since marathon training will likely be a lot like Vancouver in that it's sometimes just not all that fun, I think I'll need to blog the good stuff. This way I'll have that road map to my memory corner.... I think I'm going to need them when I'm in the pain cave!

(pain cave is totally one of my new runner-person phrases that I throw around unabashedly in my head - but never out loud.... maybe AFTER the marathon I'll use all of my cool runner-person phrases out loud.)